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Cheap High Chairs Buying Guide

We selected our top picks based on value, performance, and features. In the best cheap high chairs bucket we put the Graco SimpleSwitch (starting at $70) for its two-seats-for-the-price-of-one design (high chair becomes feeding chair) and parental seal of approval, and the Fisher-Price EZ Clean (starting at $77) due to its parent-friendly cleaning and storage attributes.

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The second-best cheap high chairs on our list are the Graco Meal Time (starting at $77) with its convenient fold-up design and favorable parent feedback and the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver Feeding Chair (starting at $50) for its efficient no-legs design and secondary purpose as a backless booster. We're also keen on the Cosco Flat Fold (starting at $29) with its no-frills simplicity, portability, and super cheap price, but didn't add it to the list because it seems to be near the end of its run. (Act now if this model meets your needs.) The Badger Basket Embassy Wood High Chair (starting at $82), a stylish wooden high chair that isn't all that user-friendly and sits just at the edge of our price range, fails to get our vote.

All high chairs serve a similar purpose but vary in terms of visual appeal and functionality. Some are traditional stand-alone models, some conveniently fold for storage and portability, and some dispense with the legs and sit strapped atop a regular chair, and one on our list converts from a high chair to a feeding chair. Remember, children typically sit in a high chair for a maximum three years (or until they weigh 40 to 50 pounds), so cheap high chairs that are sturdy and safe, with portability an extra bonus, are adequate to the feeding tasks at hand.

As you start shopping you'll definitely notice differences between cheap and pricey models. Entry-level high chairs are usually made with a metal frame and a soft, cloth-covered plastic seat. They won't win awards for aesthetics, but they're functional (most have adjustable seats suitable for infant and toddler feeding and removable trays and/or insert; some have wheels), easy to assemble, and relatively durable. Upmarket high chairs generally feature more contemporary design (see, for example, the angled wood of the Stokke Tripp Trapp, which starts at $250, or the cocoon-like Bloom Fresco Chrome, which starts at $449), serve multiple purposes as the child grows (a base that converts to a play table, for example, or a chair that can be rocked for sleeping and later transformed into a booster-like chair), and boast an assortment of frills (e.g., detachable battery-operated lights and toys).

Aesthetics and functionality aside, the most critical qualification for a high chair, cheap or otherwise, is a JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certification. JPMA is a national trade organization for the prenatal-to-preschool industry that ensures a high chair produced by its members meets standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM). What this means: High chairs should have no sharp edges and include easy-to-see warning labels, appropriate locking devices to prevent unintentional folding, and straps that can withstand a force test (i.e., an older child can't break or pull the straps out of the bolts). The high chair should also feature secure caps and plugs, break-resistant trays, and legs wide enough for stability but not wide enough as to cause others walking by to trip. We confirmed that all the best and good cheap high chairs on our list are JPMA-certified. By the way, experts say that more high chair-related injuries stem from improper use than from poor design, but always be on the lookout for product recalls. Other important features to note on a cheap high chair include the range of seat adjustments, the type of safety harness, and the weight capacity.

Basic budget high chairs can be found at the usual big box outlets or online. If you buy online, be prepared to assemble the chair yourself, which may or may not be a welcome chore. Experts suggest that before settling on a model, go to a store for a physical inspection: poke and prod, test the folding mechanism (if relevant), check out the tray, and look for sharp edges.

by Emily Lugg (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Baby, Children, Furniture,
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